Source: written by Edward E.Thomason Ė Preach today.com
Date _______ place: Church of Christ
Sermon Plan Theme: Our personal growth
Perseverance is a Christ-like virtue
text: Hebrews 12:1-4
1. "On the Fourth of July in 1951, Florence Chadwick, an Olympic swimmer attempted to swim from Catalina Island to the
California coast. The challenge was not so much the distance, but the bone-chilling waters of the Pacific. Each minute she spent in those icy waters was an
achievement in perseverance. As she swam she as able to endure knowing that land was just so many miles away. But the challenge became more complicated when a
dense fog began to veil the entire area, making it impossible for her to see land. After about 15 hours in the water, and within a half mile of her goal,
Chadwick gave up. Later she told a reporter, "Look, I'm not excusing myself. But if I could have seen land, I might have made it."1
2. I suspect that many good works are never completed or accomplished because of a failure to stay focused on goals.
Florence Chadwick was not just swimming, she was swimming for land. The coast line was her goal. And she finally gave up when she could no longer see it.
3. "Not long afterward she attempted the feat again. Once more a misty veil obscured the coastline and she couldn't see
the shore. But this time she made it because she kept reminding herself that land was there. With that confidence and faith she bravely swam on and achieved her
goal. In fact, she broke the men's record by 2 hours!"1
4. Text: Hebrews 12:1-4 (Read)
I. IN THIS TEXT, PERSEVERANCE IS DEMANDED VS. 1
A. Notice that word patience in verse 1.... (We are demanded to "run with
patience the race that is set before us.")
The writer is talking about PERSEVERANCE. From our childhood we have
heard lessons and songs that stress its importance. The "little train that could" / "the tortoise who won a race with the hare." In
school we are taught lessons in history of inventors and statesmen and soldiers and entrepreneurs who were persistent in whatever they sought out to accomplish.
So often it is not the most intelligent or the most athletic or the wealthiest that achieve their
dreams, but those who are willing to persevere against all odds. That lesson applies to our spiritual lives as well. It is one of those qualities that
anyone can possess but so often is missing when needed.
Most of us already know that:
Perseverance is demanded of us within scripture.
Perseverance is developed within us as we absorb (or incorporate) scripture.
Perseverance is demonstrated by us as we apply scripture.
Like all knowledge found in scripture we must: acquire it, absorb
it, and apply it, ---if we want to be successful with it.
B. The word endurance can be thought of as a "passive virtue."
To illustrate... "It would be like a ship anchored in a storm. It may be under attack by the
wind and waves, yet it remains secure to that one spot by the anchor."2 Sometimes it seems like the only thing one can do is to
just batten down the hatches and remain anchored until the storms are past. In the South we sometimes say, "Just grin and bear it."
C. But the word perseverance (better describes what Jesus is doing in our text.)
Again, we can illustrate it as being "like a ship sailing despite the storm. It may be under attack by
the same wind and waves but it presses on to its destination despite the obstacles."2 It was this kind of active virtue that Jesus
possessed. As we will notice in a moment, He didnít just "endure" the cross, he "persevered" because of the joy (the reward and
destination) that lay ahead.
D. For us, the Christian race is not just a short quick dash to the finish line where we can quickly say, "Iíve been there
and done that!"
But its more like an endurance race that will last our entire life time. It may at times take every
ounce of strength we possess as we struggle thru the storms of life! But we have committed our lives to living the Christian life and running the Christian
race. For us there is no quitting or looking back. There will be "trials and temptations" that are as difficult to endure as the icy waters were for Florence
Chadwick... but we persevere! Because - it is demanded!
II. IN THIS TEXT, PERSEVERANCE IS ALSO DEMONSTRATED
A. Notice verse 2. Jesus "endured the cross" (The cross and all the shame and suffering that came with it was his
But notice something very important in this text... Notice what enabled him to do this.... Vs 2.
"Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross." The "joy set before Him" was his coast line.... it was the goal that he pressed
toward. Jesus persevered because he stayed focus on the joy that lay ahead.
B. We might ask, What is our goal as we run the Christian race? Where is our coastline? What do we focus on?
The text says, "Look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." With our eyes of faith
on Jesus we can run with perseverance the race set before us. And when we find ourselves weary and faint in our minds as we struggle against sin, Verses 3 and 4
remind us to just stop and "consider Him that endured..." (If he can do it... so can we.)
III. IN THIS TEXT, PERSEVERANCE IS DOABLE (applications)
A. Folks there are some very powerful lessons in this text for us.
As Christians we are challenged to not grow weary in well doing. We must press on and on some more
toward the goal that is set before us. We dare not quit when the shore may be only a short distance away. We must not allow ourselves to become entangled in sin
or sidetracked away from our purpose.
B. Perseverance is needed during times of trial in our lives
There are times when remaining active for the Lord is difficult When you are suffering from an
extended illness or chronic pain, when you are in the grip of grief and loss in your life. Its like being in the icy
waters... the pain and suffering can be almost more than we can endure... but thatís when we must focus on the shore line... look with faith to Jesus. Many
times a delinquent Christian will use their trials as an excuse for their giving up when the real problem was actually a failure to keep our focus on Jesus. (Like Peter who once climbed out of a boat and walked on water to Jesus.... he began to sink when he focused on the waves and wind rather
than on Jesus. Matthew 14:30.) But in spite of our trials and troubles, we must continue to press on in doing good. Did
you know that we can work for God, even if we are bed ridden from some illness or accident? We can work for God from our wheel chairs or our hospital rooms. We
can pray for others and pray for the work, even if we canít be there.
C. You can even use your "8 watt ability" if that is all you have...
Let me explain: "In 1972, NASA launched the exploratory space
probe Pioneer 10. The satellite's primary mission was to reach Jupiter, photograph the planet and its moons, and beam data to earth about Jupiter's magnetic
field, radiation belts, and atmosphere. Scientists regarded this as a bold plan, for at that time no earth satellite had ever gone beyond Mars, and they feared
the asteroid belt would destroy the satellite before it could reach its target. But Pioneer 10 accomplished its mission and much, much more. Swinging past the
giant planet in November 1973, Jupiter's immense gravity hurled Pioneer 10 at a higher rate of speed toward the edge of the solar system. At one billion miles
from the sun, Pioneer 10 passed Saturn. At some two billion miles, it hurtled past Uranus; Neptune at nearly three billion miles; Pluto at almost four billion
miles. By 1997, twenty-five years after its launch, Pioneer 10 was more than six billion miles from the sun."3
Here is the point: "Despite that immense distance, Pioneer 10
continued to beam back radio signals to scientists on Earth. Perhaps most remarkable those signals emanate from an 8-watt transmitter, which radiates about as
much power as a bedroom night light, and takes more than nine hours to reach Earth. "The Little
Satellite That Could" was not qualified to do what it did. Engineers designed Pioneer 10 with a useful life of just three years. But it kept going and
going. By simple longevity, its tiny 8-watt transmitter radio accomplished more than anyone thought possible."3
So it is when we offer ourselves to serve the Lord. God can work even through someone with 8-watt
abilities. God cannot work, however, through someone who quits."
D. Perseverance is also needed in times of "temptation" as much or more so than in times of "trial."
There are a lot of tempting delights and pleasures to draw us away from God. Florence Chadwick, not only
had the problem of icy water to contend with, she had to deal with the temptation to quit and get back into a comfortable boat that sailed along beside her. If
she did not concentrate she would get to thinking about the warm cabin, the food, and the comfort of that boat. It would be so easy to just give up and enjoy
its hospitality. The world is always around us, luring us and enticing us to give up the Christian life and enjoy its
hospitality and momentary pleasures. But as soon as we give in, we are made useless.
Let us keep our hands to the plow and not look back... and donít let the distractions of this world take us away from our work
Illus: We need to be like the postage stamp.... it sticks to one thing until it gets there.
Some one has suggested that "Perseverance is an extended version of self-control: Self-control is a daily exercise but
Perseverance is self-control exercised today, tomorrow, the next day, and so on."2
It is a Christ-like virtue that anyone can possess. Just remember that "joy" awaits those who persevere. And may your
faith focus on "that shoreline of joy" and bring you greater resolve as you live daily for Jesus.
Notes:1Sermon Illustrations A-Z by Brett Blair
2 Illustrations from Executable Outlines via the Internet.
3 Pastoral Grit: the Strength to Stand and to Stay (Bethany), Craig Brian Larson (see Sermon Illustrations A-Z by Brett Blair